ethnography project pitch

How does watching young influencers effect young women’s mental health?

I will be conducting interviews with women close to my age and asking how much time they spend on social media weekly – and how they notice it changed they’re mental perceptions or how it does. As well as continuing the plan I made for my study. It will be an intersting time to be recording my mental state during this stressful times of COVID-19 in the height of online learning. I will be looking at this topic in the context of these things as well as being a women with beauty standard being inrealistic and out of reach. The ethical side of this issue follows how influencers create a false reality of mental health and a fake perception of constantly appearing happy – forcing viewers to feel that way aswell.

The problem with my niche is i know influencers and social media can really effect young peoples mental state. I know its a problem in itself – but how much of a probloem is it to me. I really want to take on this ethnography study to know how I can react to mental health in my own digital artefact Chàe Media – it’s an important topic to talk about and I want to shed light on it in the correct way. I hope my ethnography study can bring light to the important of mental health amoung young people.

research and ethics

BCM241 | Week 4

Ethically, how do I approach my research? Taking an auto-ethnographic approach I don’t require looking for permission from others, just myself. In terms of documenting which influencers I’m looking at and which videos – as their open and accessible on the internet which is kind of a “public domain” – I’ll be referencing all their work as well as I don’t intend to do anything unethically. I want to be able to write honestly and critically about myself and my experiences

A meta-ethnological study on “Women’s perceptions of their mental health and wellbeing during pregnancy” by BMC Womens Health used the tool of PEO (Population, Exposure, Outcome). They “refined search terms during a scoping process to search for qualitative studies on young women’s (P) experiences and perceptions (O) of their mental health and wellbeing (E) during and after pregnancy.” They followed a seven-step process of meta-ethnography (Getting started, Relivance to inital interest, reading the studies, determining how studies are related, translating the studies, synthesising the studies and expressing the synthesis)- key constructs were examined then translated into one another. The results ended in seven translated themes in their research among a group of women, were “identified forming an argument wherein mental health and wellbeing was analysed as relating to individual bodily experiences; tied into past and present relationships; underpinned by economic insecurity and entangled with feelings of societal surveillance.” There clear general statement in the young women’s experiences, because they were more complex than dominant narratives around overcoming adversity. They concluded that health and social care professionals need to reflect on the operation of power and stigma in young women’s lives and its impact on wellbeing. (Lucas, G, Olander, EK, Ayers, S & Salmon, D 2019) I looked at this study as it also dove into the ethnography of mental health – though I do believe for my study I wont be taking every step they took in their meta-ethnographic approach as mine is internal – autoethnography.

In an auto-ethnographic study done by Salma Siddique, she went into the field and interviewed women who were going through psychotherapy and the staff who were working amongst them. She had conducted her research on the women in crisis, and found herself empathising and identifying with the women, being spoken too as someone who was separate from the staff team who offered an objective perspective on what was happening at the project. She said “Auto-ethnographers are expected to be both aware of their role as researchers and to report that reflexively…. Given that the ethnographer spends a substantial amount of time ‘in the field’, in order to achieve a ‘thick description’ of cultural processes, he or she is able to generate a much more nuanced and detailed understanding than could be achieved merely through interviews... The ethnographer is also able to observe and note many episodes that might not be mentioned by an interviewee, such as the conversation on how to handle the assessment procedures that was reported in Fieldwork extract one“. (Siddique, S. 2011) This makes me think my initial though of just tracking myself and my mental changes – i have to go into the digital field and see how others are effected too.

Growing up in the age of social media its become the new normal, to see yourself in various forms online on various platforms. It becomes harder to illuminate your social media usage, if those around you don’t do the same. It’s a tangled relationship which can become a primary issue in many young peoples complex experiences with the role of technology and social media in their lives. In 2018 a Healthy Minds Study found that students with mental health problems were less likely to feel satisfied with their academics leading to lower levels of self- efficacy, less motivation, and less ambitious academic plans than their peers without mental health concerns. Social Media can be debated over and over on whether it impact positively or negatively on ones mental health, though many would say its the later its still a new evolving phenomenon. For women specifically this constant need to compare ourselves to a false reality online can be detremental to ones mental health. A false reality, a toxic positivety, suggests that young women should excel in all aspects of their lives all while maintaining ideal standards of physical appearances and social status. (Kaler, Stebleton and Potts, 2020) For my research I’ll be focusing on more so one person, myself – A 21 year-old, Australian born, multicultured young women – and how my social media use via lifestle ifluencers effects my mental health. And perhaps finding others in my cohort who have experienced changed in their mood due to social media and influencers.

– Kaler, L., Stebleton, M. and Potts, C., 2020. “It Makes Me Feel Even Worse”: Empowering First-Year Women to Reconsider Social Media’s Impact on Mental Health. About Campus: Enriching the Student Learning Experience, 24(6), pp.10-17.
– Lucas, G, Olander, EK, Ayers, S & Salmon, D 2019, ‘No straight lines – young women’s perceptions of their mental health and wellbeing during and after pregnancy: a systematic review and meta-ethnography’, BMC women’s health, vol. 19, no. 1, p. 152.
– Mertens, Donna (2014) Ethical Use of Qualitative Data and Findings, The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Data Analysis (Edited by Use Flick), Sage: Los Angeles, 510 – 523.
– Siddique, S. (2011) ‘Being in-between: The relevance of ethnography and auto-ethnography for psychotherapy research’, Counselling & Psychotherapy Research, 11(4), pp. 310–316.

planning my approach

BCM241 | Week 3

The problem within my niche of Young Internet Influencers is how it effect it viewers (broad, very broad). To better understand this niche I want to know how it’s going to effect ME as an active viewer. After thinking about my niche, and figuring out how it effects me, I want my my research to show how this niche effects me – how watching these influencers effect my mental health. Is the conversation they bring about mental health a good think for viewers, or does it create a pressure to be happy a “toxic positivety”. As I already occasionally watch these YouTube stars videos, I want to dive further into understanding their attention to mental health. Whilst being an active viewer I’m going to be recording how I feel, how I connect with them through a screen and even looking further into the fanbases of the influencers I’ve chosen.

I want to focus on how they’re nearly the same age as me yet their having such an impact on a cluster of people. What they do or say, and even present to the world through their online presence can build an added pressure to the viewer. The problem with my niche is how each influencer reacts to mental health themselves, or simple ignores it. As a viewer – why or how do I get influenced by them, why do I want what they have. To better understand the niche, is to better understand the image they portray. My audience for Chàe Media is the same demographic these influencers target – teenagers to young adults prodomenently women. I want to find out this conversation of mental health, not only to boost the sense of relatablity and help we provide or does it create light of a sensative topic. Could my DA also helps others to battle this toxic positivety. I want to extend my knowledge on mental health and social media as I’d like to go into social media marketing and branding as a future career and I want to know how to tackle sensative topics.

To conduct my ethnographical study I will be using the methods of observation and autoethnography. I’m going to record my weekly notes perhaps even put it up on my blog to track the differences I learn each week – I will be screenshoting and keeping track of any changes that occur with my personal experience. As autoethnography is “not simply to document personal experience but to provide an insider perspective” to my report, I want to change my experience of being a subscriber to being an active subscriber to understand the social phenomenon of influencers as a whole. (Anderson, L 2006) My Research Schedule for my study is….

  • Once a week I will watch 1-3 videos of different influencer in my similar age bracket (e.g. Best Dressed and Emma Chamberlain). I will track how or why this changes my mood, or helps me gain knowledge and experience.
  • I will participate in the niche by making comments on the videos which mention mental health or bring a sense of a happiness trap – and see how this effects me mentally
  • The main digital fields i’ll be using will be YouTube, Instagram and Twitter
  • I will do this over five weeks (choosing different influencer/s per week)
  • After my analysis of research I will put into action what I’ve learnt or gained into my own social media accounts (my digital artefact – Chàe Media)
  • I will interview my peers on their thought on social media effecting them mentally (one or two a week – see if this differs from my views)
  • I’m going to record my field notes throughout – screenshotting what I then put into action after learning

I’ll be analysing my personal experience as a consumer of these influencers. “the process of looking and reporting are guided by the observer’s (me) implicit or explicit concepts that make some details more important and relevant than others… what is selected for observation and recording reflecting the working theories or conceptual assumptions employed… by the ethnographer.” (Geertz, C 1973) I’m researching these influencers on the basis of wanting to know if what theyre claiming to help my mental health, actually does so, not neccessarily to be like them, but to find out if thats what I take away and end up falling into the happiness trap.

– Geertz, Clifford (1973) ‘Thick description: Toward an interpretive theory of culture,’ in the Interpretation of Cultures, Basic Books: New York.
– Anderson, Leon 2006, Analytic Autoethnography, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 373-393

narrowing my field site

BCM241 / Week 2

My niche, as I stated in my last post was “Quirky Internet Teens”. Since this niche wasn’t truly a specific person or company I will not looking more into the theory of how these young influencers online effect the mental health of young adults the same age. I want to know what makes the personality famous rather than just a brand – how do they frame mental health – do they acknolwedge it or create a happiness trap.

The problem with this media niche, is how do they influencers show mental health, is it authetically or do the create toxic positivity? Will I eventually have to look at one specific influencer to track their progression on how they approach mental health or should I look into multiple? The reason I want to know this research is so I can track how much positive messages I personally am getting from these influencer and as well so that I may then use my findings and put their methods into my own company Cháe Media. As a multimedia company we operate on different platforms – much like influencers – we like to talk about wellness and self care but we’ve never really openly discussed mental health. Our company is our brand, our influencer – but I’m questioning whether discussing mental health would make us more successful and relatable to help our audience or be too confronting for an audience.

To narrow my field site I’m going to look at influencers online – for example Emma Chamberlain and Best Dressed (Ashley) – Two have distinct personalities and “branding” online as “Fashion Influencers”. My “field site” will be the influencers social media pages, but to do so im going ot have to research their analytics. There also may be ways for me to research their offline activites which in turn helps their online activity. As other ethnographers have resorted to this offline and online method aswell as tracking public reactions (Massimo, 2018) – so this would be these influencers fan base – specifically me. I’m going to view their actions online as what could be a blueprint for my own brand or the opposite what what I should do. In the map i’ve drawn, I’ve generalized these two influencers under “Young Influencer Fame”. The map shows all the elements interconnected because I believe one area will affect the other and viseversa.

Ashley (aka Best Dressed) has 3.45 Million YouTube subscribers, 1.5 Million Instagram followers and 95.7 Thousand Twitter followers. She operated mainly on Youtube and instagram as a “Fashion Influencer”. In addition to her mainly fashion focus content she also talks about taboo topics on her YouTube channel which shows her personality aside from just her image which I believe has heavily impacted her success. Her success online had lead to her being invited to Fashion Week aswell as having her own jewelry line. There isnt evidence online as to who manages Ashley.

Emma Chamberlain did not begin her YouTube success in fashion, but in vlogging and evolved since then. She has 9.28 Million Subscribers, 9.9 Million Instagram followers 3.6 Million Twitter followers. She has had collaborations with Louis Vuitton and also attended fashion week and recently bought a 4.5 million dollar home. She was signed by US Top talent agency UTA in 2018.

So, how did they go from young naive teenagers posting videos online to internet celebrities? Do they speak openly about the struggled it talk to get there and the toll its taken on their mental stability?

For my future career, these aspects interested me as I would like to go into the field of Social Media Management and for fashion brands or social media companies – and I want to know how to or how to not talk about mental health properly. I find the aspect of speaking openly about something so sensitive, brave and very interesting. We are alot more open in talking about mental health now a days but I want to look in a microscopic sense – are we really progressing in this mental health dicussion? I bring the perspective of a young social media consumer, I am being exposed to these messaged from influencers everyday. For more indepth research I may have to look into scholarly articles on Social Media and mental health and how it has impacted young people in general.

– bestdressed, YouTube,

-Emma Chamblerlain, YouTube,

– Ward, T, 2018, Forbes, Don’t Sleep on YouTube Star Emma Chamberlain,

– Airoldi, Massimo (2018) ‘Ethnography and the digital fields of social media’, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 21:6, 661 -673

what is my media niche?

My media niche to put it “simply” is :
“Quirky Internet Teens”
and their brand across all Social Media.

Now, what does that even mean? I would put a handful of internet influencers in this category of “Quirky Teen” (some may not even be teens but they share this same similar vibe) – like Emma Chamberlain, Best Dressed, Ur Mom Ashley, Avery Ovard etc. These are a mix of female personalities that only recently become popular online. The reason I believe its MY niche is because they’ve normalised alot of things for me. I grew up watching YouTubers who made life seem as if it always had a fun VSCO filter over it, that I had to aspire to this bubbly expectation. I want to do what they’ve done, in my DA – normalise things for young people and do it in a way that can positively influene them. And though i’ve mainly pointed out Youtubers I’m talking about their presence online as a whole: Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok etc.

If you look at these YouTubers videos, they seem like everyday people going through everyday things – but if you look at their instagram feeds they look like models. So where does the line of quirky come in? Through their personalities they seem like they could be the kind of person youd want to hang out with, but on their Instagrams they might seem less approachable because of their aesthetic and style.

These Quirky Internet Teens have established that its okay to have an aesthetic, a style, you’re own individual personality… and its also okay to normalise different things we all go through. Most “Quirky Internet Teens” have normalise anxiety and depression for me to understand today, which may sound like a negative thing. But it really isn’t. They’re helping future generations understand that it’s okay to be down, that it’s okay to be going through something. Other viewers might take it in a different way.. are these Infuencers “glamourising” mental health issues? Or do others see it the same as me, to bring attention to mental health and help other teeangers/young adults see that its perfectly normal.

Throughout creating and shaping my DA what I hope to investigate is how does this attention to mental health or other issues we go through as young adults, that these Quirky Teens bring impact their viewers. As ethnography requires me to carry this research out during a period of time with the goal of achieving an analytical desciption of this influencer culture I have to start to think about know how to carry out this research. (Daymon, C and Holloway, I, 2011) Do these influencers indeed glamourise and entice teenagers to create a facade or anxiety and depression or does it help educate and bring light to its viewers. Will my DA hinder important issues like mental health through its aesthetics or will it help other people? Through my interest of aesthetics and styles I want to focus on how and why can internet personalities or groups POSTIVIELY impact a demographic of young adults. These influencers are able to stay active on all platforms engageing their audiences across social media. What is it about them that makes people keep coming back? What makes their audience “aspire” to be them or look up to them instead of envying and cancelling them. I want to be able to know at the end of the semester how my Digital Artefact influences our audience. By following our engagemnt statistics that compliment the media I will be creating – How does a persona or personality change the way an audience interacts with an influencer/media team.

– Daymon Christine and Holloway Immy (2011) ‘Ethnography’, Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications. Routledge: New York.